Death, casualties in protests

Much havoc was caused during one of three service delivery protests that, since Sunday, hit the province, with journalists, police and workers attacked in the mayhem. International tourists also became victims of circumstances as the protesters blocked one of the main roads leading into the Kruger National Park.

A woman was killed when the community clashed with the police and, by Tuesday morning, police had arrested more than 50 people and charged them with public violence as well as damage to property after a local councillor’s house was stoned and torched.

The unnamed woman was knocked down by a truck as she was going to church.

The main road linking White River and the tourist town of Hazyview was literally on fire as the angry community burnt tyres and pelted motorists and police with stones in one of the worst local service delivery protests since 2009.

Locals had several community meetings last week and agreed that the only way to force the government to listen to their plight, which includes lack of water, electricity, decent roads and work for the youth, was to engage in a service delivery protest.

Spokesperson for the Kruger Park William Mabasa confirmed the strike had affected both local and international tourists who intended using the Numbi Gate to get in or out of the park.

“We managed to help them out though the Phabeni Gate, near the Hazyview station,” said Mabasa on Tuesday.

Journalists, like Mbekezeli Mbuli, were not spared the violence on Monday.

“My car was attacked and I had to be escorted by the police out of the scene,” he said.

“It was too dangerous because the people did not want to see a camera near them, forgetting that our duty as journalists is to serve their right to know.”

Mbombela Municipality’s spokesperson, Joseph Ngala, could not be reached for comment.

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